Back in the 1950s, I bought a long focus lens of about 50-inches from the H.W.English catalogue, which was a veritable Alladin’s cave of government surplus items. My interest in astronomy was fired by a little astronomy book in the school library, with the enchanting title “ The Star-Spangled Sky”, authored by a vicar.
The “ objective” lens was about three-and-a- half inches in diameter. It was very thin like a big convex/concave spectacle lens. My dad, who had no interest in astronomy, made me a main tube ( no glare stops ) with a simple push-pull inner tube, a simple AltAz mounting and a tripod- all in cold steel at the local engineering firm where he worked.
The eyepiece, also acquired from the English catalogue, was a flawless big brass gunsight eyepiece, which I reckon yielded a magnification of about 50X. Aged twelve, on a warm summer evening while it was still light, I pointed the crude ‘scope at a gibbous moon. It was a revelation. I was astounded to see the lunar craters and mountains for the first time. This was followed by an overpowering feeling that I could travel anywhere in the Universe with my newly-acquired refractor.
Surprisingly, I didn’t notice any chromatism from the non-achromatic “objective”. This crude instrument inspired two friends to take up astronomy as a hobby. One made a four-inch reflector and the other a eight-inch reflector ( followed by a fifteen-inch reflector, but which was never completed due to him emigrating ).All the ‘scopes were fitted with bought out optics. Since then, I’ve never lost interest in our beautiful hobby.. .